Every Day Is a Challenge: It’s All About How You Perceive It

Every day is another day in this world. While you’re trying to live your life to its fullest you will definitely have those challenging days, right? Well, I’d like to share with you a story about one of those challenging days.

About a week ago, my wife Amy and my six month old daughter Taylor Lynn decided to go out for breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants in Sonoma, and of course, I brought my 14-month-old McNab Shepherd Pistol with us. I take her everywhere I go. When we came out of the restaurant, Pistol had dug into a bottle of Advil which was wedged in the side of my truck door. It was almost impossible even for me to dig it out, but somehow she managed to get into the bottle and ate I don’t even know how many pills.

We drove over to the warehouse where we were scheduled to do inventory. I told my wife to go in and get started and I would keep an eye on Pistol, for as much as I knew, she might not have eaten any pills. Amy just got through the door when Pistol started throwing up all over the truck and began dry heaving. My heart froze, but I knew I couldn’t panic. I had to act now. I ran to the door and asked the girl at the desk to please get my wife, and as Amy came out the door, Pistol collapsed in my arms.

While we were rushing the dog to the hospital, she fell into a coma. We thought for sure Pistol was dying. When we got to the hospital, the doctor rushed her into the emergency room and would not let us back there. I was not very happy with them at all, and was somewhat in their face; I could not let my dog pass without me holding her in my arms. Several hours went by and they finally came to get us. When we went back, Pistol was still in a coma, and they explained she might not make it due to liver and kidney damage from the Advil. They kept questioning us on how much she ate and we kept saying we have no idea, as I had not opened that bottle for probably a year. They explained we might not know for days if she will make it. After about six hours of hanging out waiting, they came to get us again and took us back to see her. She was lying totally still, but opening one eye to let us know she knew we were there. The doctor recommended we go home and come see her the next day so that she would rest, so we did.

You never know what each day will bring us – one minute, we were having fun as a family; my little daughter Taylor and my lovely wife Amy enjoying an early morning breakfast, including having the chef prepare a special chicken dish for Pistol, and the next minute, our whole world is turned upside down. Life has its challenging moments like that, doesn’t it?

So, after spending most of the day with Pistol, we finally got home at about four o’clock in the afternoon. When I went into the house, tired but undefeated, something caught my wife’s eye.  Amy said, “Hey, there is an orange rabbit in the yard!” My heart sank a little, and I thought, what kind of strange test could it be now? “A rabbit? That’s strange, I think you’re thinking of the neighbor’s orange cat,” I said to her optimistically. “I’ve never seen a cat jump like that,” she replied. So, I went outside to watch my neighbor’s cat jump like a rabbit, but lo and behold, there were 12 domestic rabbits, all different colors, running around! They were so cute, these fury little balls hopping around the yard. They looked like they were having the time of their life. At first I thought wow, this is very cool, I love seeing these rabbits enjoying themselves running around our three- acre yard. Now, this was a week ago, when the temperatures were getting down to 26-27 degrees at night and I know from being a rancher that rabbits aren’t going to survive outside in this cold.

I should mention that our neighbor, the caretaker of our three-acre estate also has a dog. If his dog were to get one whiff of those rabbits, he’d be eating them in a heartbeat! And normally Pistol is home and she’d be eating the rabbits as well. As with Pistol’s situation, I had to think fast. So, I went straight to it and started chasing after our little guests. If you’ve ever tried to catch a rabbit, you can imagine what it’s like to chase after those quick little buggers! They were quite a bit faster than me. I had to outsmart them by opening doors and little cupboards here and there around the pool house. As I tried to get them inside, they still kept sneaking away from me.

Four hours later, I had all of the rabbits stored safely inside our laundry room, but my wife was having a fit. “They’re going to make a huge mess, Steve!” she said to me. Her kind and tired face showed deep concern. “Well, I’m not going to leave them out in the cold, you know they will all be dead in the morning,” I said taking her hand. “I have to take care of them,” I added. She nodded, giving me a gentle, understanding smile.

So we went to bed and the next morning it was time to face the next challenge. I got up and went to check on our guests. Lo and behold, my wife was right; the rabbits marked their territory inside of our laundry room. There was urine and feces everywhere, up the walls three feet! After spending four hours cleaning up the mess (thanks for our hospitality), I called around trying to find the rabbits a home. Finally, I found a granary that agreed to take them and help us adopt them out. Why would somebody dump rabbits in my yard? It must be someone who was fed up with the rabbits and knows that I love animals and would make sure they had a good home.

Some days can be a challenge. However, it’s all about how you perceive it, right? As of today, all the rabbits have a nice little home. Pistol stayed in the hospital for four days but finally came home as well. She is healthy and doesn’t seem to have any issues except sniffing around to see if she can figure out who was in her home when she was away.

I wanted to share this story with you as it is a story of overcoming life’s trials through perseverance, or a story of finding the strength in your heart to see the good in whatever the day may bring you? Would Pistol have lived if I had not saved the rabbits? We will never know that, will we? But I can tell you one thing: we all will face those challenges probably more than once in our lives, and our perceptions of what is going on will determine our actions, and those actions determine our lives.


Count Your Blessings and Live Every Day to its Fullest

Over the holidays, we think back on the great times, the not-so-great times, and make resolutions for the next year. But sometimes we forget to focus on today.

HappyHolidaysDebby and John Silliman, dear friends of Amy’s and mine and club members for years, were at The Castle in August for a private tasting, and as always, we were delighted to see them. They really appreciate good wine and everything that goes with it. After leaving Sonoma, they went to stay in a Bay Area hotel.  While lying by the pool, as it was such a hot day, John got up from his lounge chair, and suddenly without warning, fell backward onto the concrete, hit his head, and went into a coma. He was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in San Jose, where he stayed for several weeks with swelling on the brain. Nobody was sure what the outcome of this trauma to John’s head would result in and everyone wondered if he would come out of it and still be the ‘old John’ we all know and love?

The reason I’m sharing this story with you is that we recently found out that that after six long months of doctors, hospitals and wondering what his life would be like going forward, John is finally okay. In fact, he is 100% okay. Naturally, he’s been told to take it easy for a while. In fact, John and Debby just came out for a visit last week. And they’re back to enjoying wine after a six-month hiatus!  During their visit we were able to get together and enjoy a bottle of 2008 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel Reserve in celebration of John’s recovery. And life!  John makes his own maple syrup and sends it to us every year – it’s always a highlight for us, and boy is it delicious. And we know it comes with love. John probably won’t be sending any Maple syrup this year, but I’m sure next year he will be right back on it.

Just cherish every moment, every day that you have, because you never know when something’s going to happen.  You never know the outcome – sometimes we are fortunate and other times we are not. You just never know.

We are so thrilled for John’s recovery and wish John and Debby the greatest days and years going forward. And we wish you the same.

Happy Holidays, friends.  Savor every day.

Reflecting on Those Special Times: Some Things Never Change

When I was a kid, I loved hiking up Hood Mountain. I tried to make it at least once a week, weather permitting. It is just breathtaking when you’re on top of the mountain – you feel like you’re miles from everyone yet you can see the world, especially from my favorite place on the mountain.  For centuries it’s been know by locals as Gunsight, a big out cropping of rock sitting 2700 feet above the valley floor. It will literally take your breath away, just standing on the edge looking down.

On a clear day, you can see San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. I was there just the other morning. I still love going up there every chance I get, which is probably about once a month. It’s best at daybreak, when no one else is ever around. It’s great thinking time.

It takes me about 50 minutes from the parking lot to the top, which I always thought was pretty fast, until my cousin Ken Lambert told me he makes it in 36 minutes!  Being twenty years younger to the day seems to help.

Gunsight-photoFBA while back, our Ledson team wanted to create a really special blend of wine. It was to be the employee wine, an everyday food-friendly wine. One day, sitting around sipping a glass after work, we were taking in the beautiful mountains around The Castle.  And there it was, right before our eyes, Gunsight Rock at the top of majestic Hood Mountain. It’s not only my favorite spot but a favorite spot for many of us at The Castle. The name of the wine came to us naturally – Gunsight.

If you get the chance to visit Gunsight yourself, make sure you stop by The Castle and pick up a bottle of the most recent vintage and a sandwich to take with you. Don’t worry about how long it takes to get up there, just enjoy the walk. (My cousin Ken runs 50-mile races through the mountains, so don’t use his time to judge how long it should take!).

I never reveal what’s in the blend; I like to say, “Everything but the kitchen sink.” I guess I got that phrase from Dad. He and I used to spend hours in the cellar when I was a kid. Dad loved to incorporate as many varieties as he could to make the perfect everyday “go to” blend. Boy, did we make some great wines. When I was growing up on the ranch, and anyone happened to stop by, we poured these blends and Mom would put out a bountiful spread of home-cooked food.

Gunsight wine reminds me of those days of sharing with friends and family. That’s just the kind of wine it is. Every time I enjoy a glass of Gunsight, it takes my mind back over years of my life. I cannot tell you how many times I have been up there or actually how many times I figured out an approach to something that seemed so hard when I was caught in the middle of the everyday hustle and bustle of life. It is nice just sitting there alone, dreaming of all the opportunities life can bring us. It seems like an opportunity can be staring you right in the face and because we are all so busy we may never see it; I guess that could be the difference between being successful and not.

We just released the 2009 vintage. It’s a seductive blend that deserves serious attention. Aromas of dark berry, violet, spice and gentle brown sugar are friendly and charming. A cavalcade of juicy black fruit gives this plush wine a resounding vitality. The finish has smoky blackberry with just the slightest hint of toasted nuts.

Just like there’s comfort food, this is a comfort wine. People seem to be drawn to it. Especially if you include the view.